Salt is one of the most important ingredients you can find in the kitchen. This simple ingredient can transform an average dish into a great one, enhance the flavour of food, and change flavour profile to affect sweetness and bitterness in food.
In this article brought to Cooknst by La Baleine, producer of France’s number one selling sea salt brand and now sold nationwide in the UK in Tesco and on Ocado, we explore the different types and uses of each salt.
Three main types
Generally speaking, there are 3 main types of salt with difference usages: rock salt, vacuum salt and sea salt.
- Rock salt (mine salt) is extracted from underground salt deposits. The amount of energy used for the extraction is medium. Usage: unrefined table salt is mainly used to melt snow on the streets, industrial purposes and agriculture.
- Vacuum salt (also known as table salt) is a rock salt, but unlike mined salt, it is extracted by water injection in the mine to obtain a brine which is dried later during the process. The amount of energy used for the extraction is very high. Usage: Vacuum salt is used as table salt, in chemistry, agriculture or industrial purpose.
- Sea salt is extracted, as the name suggests, from sea water. There are, however, different methods to extract the salt from the water, some of which require the use of heated pans and other machines. These natural components make the water evaporate, concentrating the salt until crystallisation. At this point, the salt workers start harvesting. This means that the amount of energy use for the extraction is very low and it mainly involves re-usable sources of energy (e.g. sun and wind). Usage: Sea salt is mostly used as a quality condiment for food.
Popular salts and when to use them in food
Coarse Salt – Coarse salt can be either sea salt or land salt. It usually retains less moisture and therefore does not cake. Coarse salt works best if kept in a grinder and used as a finishing salt. It can also be used for salt crusts on meat or fish as it takes longer to dissolve as well as to add in boiling water.
Fine Salt – Also known as table salt, this type of salt is commonly used in the kitchen, to season everyday meals, as well as for baking. It is generally sourced from salt mines and then refined, minerals removed and anti-caking agents added. With a blander taste, fine salt is ideal for baking as it also controls yeast development and strengthens gluten.
Fleur de sel – Known as the caviar of the salt world because of its complex flavour profile, this fantastic product should be used as a finishing product. Works well for meats, fish, salads and vegetables. It comes with an extra price tag, as its hand harvested by expert salt workers.
Sea salt – Sea salt refers to unrefined salt that comes from the sea. Collected after the evaporation of sea water, sea salt is not refined and it contains traces of minerals, which enhance the marine flavour of the salt with its complex mineral notes. Sea salt can be used as finishing salt, to season or to cure meat and fish.
Flake salt – Generally used as a finishing salt to give your food a burst of flavour, flake salt works incredibly well on meats such as steaks. It is harvested from salt water through natural or mechanical evaporation, it is thin and irregularly shaped with a bright, salty taste and very low mineral content.
Kosher salt – It is a coarse and flaky salt. Its popularity is mainly due to the fact that it does not contain additives or anti-caking agents. It is less salty than table salt and which makes it a perfect finishing salt or for pickling, curing and brining because it does not contain iodine.
Pink Himalayan Salt – Pink Himalayan salt is chemically very similar to table salt as it contains up to 98% sodium chloride. Typically mined by hand, it well balanced in terms of flavour and can be used as part of cooking, to season meals, and to preserve food.For more information on salt and where to get quality salt visit La Baleine’s website by clicking here.